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ISPA Year in Review
(ISPA AGM, 12 September 2002)

Since 1996, ISPA has been actively looking after the interests of the Internet Service Providers and dealing with matters related to the provision of Internet service in South Africa. The year to date was certainly no exception, as this review will show.

Membership

During the last year the number of ISPA members has increased only marginally. Consolidation in the Internet access market has led to the number of large and medium members decreasing, however, inclusion of service providers as well as access providers, a membership drive and introduction of an affiliate membership category has increased the number of small members.

ISPA plans to gain recognition as the industry body referred to in the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act. Should ISPA be recognised to fulfil this function membership is likely to increase substantially.

Growing the membership and providing value to members has been recognised as an important issue for ISPA. ISPA conducted a small member survey and held a road show in Durban. A membership ad-hoc group was formed which lead to a formal membership committee. Recently, this has been one of the most active of ISPA's committees and is responsible for - amongst other things - partnerships with other Internet-related organisations and the AGM being transformed into a three-day Internet event with guest speakers from South Africa and abroad.

Regulatory

ISPA has always played a strong lobbying and regulatory role in the South African Internet industry. The past twelve months are likely to mark one of the most active periods of ISPA since its establishment in 1997. This has been due to the Governments liberalisation process in the Telecommunications industry. The organisation's main efforts this year were thus on regulatory issues.

We've seen the introduction of the Telecommunications Amendment Act which sets out the framework for future telecommunications governance, post Telkom exclusivity. Although the Act has fallen short of creating the level of competition we had hoped for, it is our sincere belief that our participation had a positive effect on the amendments. More recently we have seen the introduction of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, although still controversial, we again believe we had a positive impact on the final legislation. Still a work in progress, the Interception and Monitoring Bill is nearing finalisation and we continue to lobby our members concerns.

ISPA's regulatory committee presented numerous submissions to government on these and other issues and to the regulator as well as producing an advisory to members on wireless Internet provision.

In conjunction with SAVA, ISPA has launched a complaint against Telkom with the competition commission for alleged anti-competitive behaviour.

Finally, after more than a years' work in progress, ISPA has developed a code of conduct which it plans to adopt at this year's AGM, a critical phase in gaining recognition by Government in terms of the ECT Act.

Internet Exchanges

ISPA operates South Africa's two Internet exchanges - JINX and CINX (in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively) - where its members interconnect their networks. These exchanges play a critical part in ensuring the efficiency of the Internet in South Africa.

During the past year, the facilities have been upgraded and some new policies introduced.

While JINX is presently maintained by ISPA on an independently hosted facility, the hosting of CINX has always been outsourced.

For many reasons, but particularly the ongoing reliability and cost of running of the exchanges, a decision was made that in future the hosting of both exchanges will be outsourced. Towards the end of September we will see the launch of the new JINX and CINX facilities.

Many concerns have been raised about ISPA's policies relating to the exchanges and an increasing number of ISPA's peering members have started formalising their own peering policies. Peering and INX policies are likely to become more of an issue of debate in the future.

Social Development

At ISPA's last AGM, the ad-hoc social development task group was formalised into a committee. The social development committee, in a partnership with UniForum SA, focused its efforts on the highly successful teachers training program, which teaches computer literacy courses to disadvantaged teachers.

Research

ISPA has not conducted any research initiatives of its own, however, it has become a sponsor of The Learning Information Networking and Knowledge (LINK) Centre. It has also as in the past invested in The Goldstuck Report - an annual study of the ISP market in South Africa - which will be circulated to members.

Conclusion

ISPA's success as an organisation in representing its members' interests shows the dedication of many passionate individuals to the development of the Internet in South Africa.

Thanks must be given to the management committee and to all the individuals involved in ISPA's various committees and initiatives with special mention of the Future Foundation for their ongoing commitment to ISPA and the membership committee for their tireless efforts to ensure the success of the Internet Week event.

 

Greg Massel and Edwin Thompson

 

iWeek 2009

iWeek 2009 conference and exhibition,
Bryanston, Johannesburg,
2-4 September 2009.

Please contact ISPA for sponsorship and exhibition queries:
iweek (at) ispa.org.za


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